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Do You Know The History Of High Heels?

Filed under: Shoes

high heel history
 The first high heels weren’t meant for walking, and they weren't women's shoes.

High heels . . . sometimes painful, difficult to walk in and impractical, are beloved by women worldwide. Did you ever wonder where did these shoes came from?

Here's a brief history:

Ancient Egyptians & Greeks

ancient egypt
High heels have been with us for thousands of years. The earliest evidence dates back to ancient Egypt where they are depicted on artifacts, including murals, tombs and temples.

16th century European nobles, and Louis XIV

european nobles
Around 1500 European noblemen wore heels as a matter of practicality. The heels prevented a horseback rider’s foot from slipping out of the stirrup as they stood up to shoot bows. Later, fashion took over and the heels became purely aesthetic when Louis XIV commissioned a shoemaker to design high heels. Most of these shoes, some with heels in excess of four inches, depicted battle scenes. Up until this point high heels were fashionable shoes for wealthy male aristocrats, not meant to be worn by women.

French influence

One of the first women to wear heels was French queen Catherine de' Medici. She had two-inch heels made for her wedding to conceal her short height. The phrase “well heeled”, meaning “wealthy”, started with the French. The poorer people wore flats and thus were not “well heeled”. Not surprisingly, during the French Revolution (a conflict where the non-wealthy folks revolted), high heels went of fashion.

From masculine to feminine

first women's high heels
Women’s high heels started out with chunkier, more masculine heels, as seen in the picture above. Later, women’s heels became more feminine as heels grew more slender. By the 1800’s men stopped wearing high heels entirely.

The 1900s 


A variety of styles flew off the shelves in the 1900’s:

  • 1904: pumps (invented in Great Britain) becomes extremely popular
  • 1955: stilettos (invented in Italy) became a fashion rage
  • 1970’s: platforms take over
  • 1990’s: chunky shoes come into vogue

Your turn . . .

Were you surprised to learn that the first high heels were worn by men, not women?

How often do you wear high heels?

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